How to Right-Click on a Mac

Just because there's no right button doesn't mean there's no right-click

Are you looking at the mouse that came with your Mac and wondering how to right-click? The Magic Mouse that comes with the Mac may not have many buttons. However, it has a touch-sensitive surface that allows you to define how to create primary and secondary (right-click) clicks and gesture commands. The same goes for the trackpads found on the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air.

How to Right-Click on a Mac Using a Keyboard Modifier

The simplest way to produce a right-click is with a keyboard modifier. Use this method to change a primary click on a mouse or trackpad into a secondary or right-click. This trick works with any pointing device, including mice and trackpads.

To right-click, hold the Control key while you click the mouse or the trackpad on your MacBook.

How to Set Up a Secondary (Right) Click on a Mouse

Using the Control key is all well and good, but you can still set up the mouse to feature a right-click function. You just need to define it.

  1. Launch System Preferences by selecting the System Preferences icon in the Dock or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

    The System Preferences command under the Apple menu
  2. Select the Mouse preference pane.

    The Mouse menu in System Preferences
  3. The Mouse preference pane has a different interface depending on the type of mouse used.

    • If you use an Apple Magic Mouse, select the Point & Click tab, then select the Secondary click check box. Below the Secondary click text is a down arrow. Select the down arrow and choose which side of the Magic Mouse to use for the Secondary click. The remaining button is defined as the secondary button used to access the context-sensitive menus.
    • Third-party mice often come with a set of mouse drivers that supersede the Mac's built-in mouse drivers. You don't have to use the third-party drivers, though they sometimes have additional capabilities. If you decide to use the third-party drivers, follow the instructions for installing and configuring the mouse.
    Magic Mouse preferences in macOS High Sierra

How to Set Up a Secondary (Right) Click on a Trackpad

You can set up a secondary click on the Mac Trackpad as well. Here's how

  1. Launch System Preferences by selecting the System Preferences icon in the Dock or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

    The System Preferences command under the Apple menu
  2. Select Trackpad.

    The Trackpad section of System Preferences
  3. Select the Point & Click tab in the Trackpad window, then select the Secondary click check box.

    Trackpad Preference Pane macOS High Sierra
  4. Below the Secondary click text is a down arrow. Select the down arrow and choose one of the options:

    • Click with two fingers
    • Click in bottom right corner
    • Click in bottom left corner
    The More menu next to Secondary Click

How to Use the Secondary or Right-Click

Now that you have the secondary click function defined, you can bring up the context-sensitive menu by placing the cursor over an item, such as a folder in Finder. Right-click by pressing the side of the mouse you defined as the secondary click. As soon as the menu appears, release the mouse, button, or mouse side. You can then select a menu item by clicking the primary side or button of the mouse.

If you use a Magic Mouse, it works the same way, though there is no actual button visible. Just press the side of the Magic Mouse you defined as the secondary side. For best results, press near the top corner of the side you chose.

The trackpad works similarly to the mouse, though it also supports using a two-finger tap as the right-click function. To use the two-finger tap, use two fingers to click down on the trackpad and keep the fingers on the trackpad until the context-sensitive menu appears.

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